The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Collections


Macbeth and the End of Slavery in the United States

What can Shakespeare say about the original sin of the United States, slavery? As two artists in the Civil War era thought, a lot. Two cartoons in the Folger’s collections, drawn around a decade apart, allude to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to comment on slavery and its place in U.S. society and politics. Through these cartoons we see the sea change that happened within that short span of time.… Continue Reading

My True Meaning: emotions in seventeenth-century wills

Anyone who has read early modern wills, whether in an attempt to confirm the names of family members or out of interest in material history, knows that they are full of emotion. Dying men and women describe their family members as “dear” or “loving,” or sometimes, more sadly, as “undutiful” or “ungrateful.”  Friends are characterized as “trusty” and “well-beloved.” People express their religious fervor, attempt to have the last word in old quarrels, make appeals for raising children, and pass on specific items to specific people.… Continue Reading

Our new catalog is here!

In April we announced the preview of our new catalog, and now it is time to make it official: the new catalog is here! Visit it at https://catalog.folger.edu/. TIND ILS (Get comfy; this is a long one. Feel free to scroll down to the New features and resources section if you want to skip to the bells and whistles!) The new catalog is powered by the TIND ILS (Integrated Library System).… Continue Reading

The Harmsworth Collection

Book collecting is a passion, or as Nicholas Basbanes famously called it, “a gentle madness,” that affects no few people. Henry and Emily Folger were two such bibliophiles, amassing the largest private collection of Shakespeareana in the world. This collection now forms the core of the Folger Shakespeare Library, which as an institution gives shape to their larger vision of making the study, appreciation, and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works available to all.… Continue Reading

What’s in a playbill?

The Folger collection includes approximately 250,000 playbills, the single-sheet precursors of today’s multi-page theater programs. By the 1750s, London playbills had developed the standard layout you see in this blog post. They presented an evening’s entertainment as a sort of theatrical equivalent to a modern restaurant posting their daily bill of fare, where a repertoire of various dishes for each course appears in a different combination every night.… Continue Reading

Introducing the Folger Reference Image Collection

Sometimes when people contact the Folger to ask questions about items in our collections, the easiest way to provide an answer is to take a quick photo of a particular detail. This has resulted in a growing collection of smartphone images of collections materials. We are now making them available in the Folger Reference Image Collection. These images are shared under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication License (CC0 1.0), so anyone can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. … Continue Reading

Announcing the Earle Hyman Collection

Earle Hyman as the Prince of Morocco in a 1953 production of Merchant of Venice Earlier this year, the Folger Shakespeare Library was privileged to receive the Earle Hyman Collection, including many of the actor’s personal papers, photographs, and theatrical ephemera, as a gift from his family and friends. Although we’re closed for renovations, we wanted to highlight this fabulous collection, as well as to recognize Mr.… Continue Reading

What are ancient coins doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

Thanks for the great guesses at the identity of the November 2019 Crocodile. It’s tempting to pick one at random and just run with it (“Why yes, it is King Lear’s lost button!”) but in fact, Robin Swope’s guess that it’s an old coin is correct. It is, in fact, a bronze prutah of Porcius Festus, Roman procurator of Judea. It’s dated the 5th year of Emperor Nero’s rule, which means it’s from 58 or 59 CE.… Continue Reading

Untangling Lady Day dating and the Julian calendar

Folger X.c.92 (3) is my new favorite manuscript: it’s a letter written in Paris that single-handedly demonstrates the fact that “new style” dates refer to two different calendar modernizations. One modernization has to do with the Christian calendar’s reckoning of “the year of our Lord.” The other relates to the Julian calendar having gradually become ten days behind the seasonal year thanks to its miscalculation that a leap year is needed every four years, no exceptions.… Continue Reading